Sports icons’ promising predictions for Year of the Rat

Lee Chong Wei

The Year of the Rat promises good beginnings but things can only materialise if stakeholders are honest with themselves and put sports ahead of personal interests.

That is the general reading of ‘feng shui masters’ Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Ong Kim Swee and Datuk Sieh Kok Chi as they provide insights into what has been generally described as a gloomy 2020 in view of a possible economic downtown worldwide.

The three icons share their views with Twentytwo13.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei (former World No. 1 shuttler, chef de mission to 2020 Tokyo Olympics)

It’s an important year for the country as we will participate in the Olympics. I foresee the national contingent obtaining good results, even better than our previous outings.

This is a good year because of the number 2020. I’m sure it will promise double the good health and double the good business. Double-double mah! (2020).”

Datuk Ong Kim Swee (former international, coach and FA of Malaysia Youth Development Unit head)

The fans would want to see the senior team qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup. There are three important games (in the qualifiers against UAE, Vietnam and Thailand) and the team is on the right track. Based on the standings (second with nine points, behind leaders Vietnam with 11 points), the team has a good opportunity to qualify for the Asian Cup.

It will be a good year for development as I foresee the collaboration between National Sports Council and the FA of Malaysia strengthen further through the National Football Development Programme. It takes years to develop players but the Year of the Rat will mark a good start.

It is a good year to reflect. Just look at Vietnam. They have become successful thanks to a good development programme.

As for the M-League, Johor Darul Ta’zim will dominate the scene again. I don’t see any team capable of going near them.

Regionally, we will see the rise of Cambodia, Laos and even the Philippines and if we don’t buck up, these nations will overtake us. Just look at the results of recent friendlies chalked up by Cambodian club PKR Svay Rieng FC against Malaysian teams. They defeated Selangor 4-0, edged Felda United 2-1 and beat Terengganu FC 4-3. That says a lot.

Datuk Sieh Kok Chi (former national water polo player, veteran sports administrator)

The Olympics will be the most important event this year. Malaysia is still looking for its first Olympic gold medal and the chances of winning are there through cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and perhaps our divers.

In the Year of the Rat, sports officials should focus on what’s important and not squabble over nothing. Such squabbles are distracting and unnecessary and will only cause the downfall of sports.

The Year of the Rat is also a good year to reflect and be honest with ourselves. We should see what is lacking in Malaysia and find ways to fix it. No point denying, things will never improve.

Other nations are changing their attitude towards sports. Just look at how Vietnam is discovering talents. If we don’t change, we will be left behind. We can no longer say our system is the best.”

Here’s wishing Twentytwo13 readers Gong Xi Fa Cai!